The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Part 10 of Let's Read Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics

Well, we are now approximately halfway through Prolegomena. I did not intend to do more than five or six posts, and now we are our tenth. I hope to finish this in twelve posts, at most thirteen. I have been reading this a few chapters at a time up to this point, but now I have finished Prolegomena. Bavinck is quite fond of repetitiveness, so I don't think chopping the length of the posts down and adding more chapters will be much of a problem.

Special Revelation

Here is the summary of this chapter: 
    Religion cannot survive on general revelation alone; a special divine disclosure or manifestation is needed. All religion can be reduced to three basic means. First, religious belief desires a God who is near so that in almost every religion there are holy places, holy times, and holy images. Second, in all religions one can find the belief that the gods in some way reveal their will to human beings. Finally, there is a universal belief in the special assistance of the gods in times of distress. Belief in manifestation, prediction, and miracle are thus necessary elements in all religions. Biblical religion may share some forms with other religions (sacrifices, temples, priests), but its substance is categorically different. In Scripture God takes the initiative; the Messiah came forth only from Israel.
So for Bavinck while Christianity is in many ways a lot like other religions, it's also very different. Particularly, God is the one who initiates correspondence and was for Israel. When I look at all the other religions in the ancient near east, I don't get the sense that any of them would claim that their god was only for them. Not that I have studied that issue very much at all, but it seems to me that Israel's claim that they had the one true God was very distinct from other nations claims, who worshiped many gods and even incorporated other gods into their worship rotation. Bavinck does mention that he believes early religion was something like monotheism, but I don't know enough one way or another to comment on that.
    A frequent mode of biblical revelation is a perceptible divine presence, a theophany (angelophany). These manifestations do not presuppose God’s corporeality nor are they emanations of the divine Being. These appearances can be impersonal presence (wind, fire) or via personal beings (angels). Among God’s envoys the Messenger of God occupies a special place. This theophany is still incomplete; theophany reaches its climax in Jesus Christ.
    Prophecy, or “inspiration,” is another mode of revelation; in it God communicates his thoughts to human beings. This address can be an audible voice, a dream, a vision, or a communication by casting lots (Urim and Thummim). Again, in form these are similar to their function in nonbiblical religions, though significant differences remain. Unlike the Greek seers, the biblical recipients of revelation did not experience a suppression of consciousness. Biblical prophetic ecstasy occurred in a state of conscious wakefulness, and most revelations to prophets occurred apart from visionary experience but through the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by the New Testament’s testimony concerning the Old Testament’s prophetic word.
My impression of the OT is not that most of the prophets received revelations through inward illumination apart from visionary experience. But Bavinck points out:

"Also in the OT most revelations to the prophets occurred without any vision, e.g., in the case of Isaiah, Haggai, Malachi, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. Granted, the word “vision” was still frequently used for divine prophecy, but this also occurs where nothing has been seen (Isa. 1:1; 2:1; Amos 1:1; Hab. 1:1; 2:1; 1 Sam. 3:15; Obad. 1; Nah. 1:1; etc.). The revelation then occurs inwardly by the Spirit as the Spirit of revelation."

Bavinck, H., Bolt, J., & Vriend, J. (2003). Reformed dogmatics: Prolegomena (Vol. 1, p. 334). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

I also don't like using the language of inward illumination to describe new revelation. Bavinck makes it clear that in the NT, with Christ as our final revelation, we do not receive new revelation as we understand Scripture through the aid of the Holy Spirit, but the way He describes the role of the Holy Spirit in helping us understand seems very problematic to me. Mystical even, which he in essence will say later on.
    While the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament comes upon a person momentarily, it is not until the New Testament that the supreme and definitive prophet makes his appearance. While some individual believers are still equipped by the Holy Spirit for the office of prophet, it is more important to underscore the universal prophetic task of all believers. Prophecy as a special gift is destined to pass away in the New Jerusalem.
This too was a bit confusing to me. I don't think we think of there being "prophets" today. But Bavinck says:

"Certain special individuals are still equipped for the office of prophet by that Spirit (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 14:3; Eph. 2:20; 3:5; etc.), nor is true prediction lacking in the NT (Matt 24; Acts 20:23; 21:10; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Thess. 2; Revelation). Still, now all believers have the anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:20) and are taught by the Lord (Matt. 11:25–27; John 6:45). All are prophets who proclaim the excellencies of the Lord (Acts 2:17f.; 1 Pet. 2:9). Prophecy as a special gift will pass away (1 Cor. 13:8). In the new Jerusalem, the name of God will be upon everyone’s forehead, and falsehood will be completely excluded (Rev. 21:27; 22:4, 15)

Bavinck, H., Bolt, J., & Vriend, J. (2003). Reformed dogmatics: Prolegomena (Vol. 1, pp. 335–336). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Continuing the summary now:
    In miracles God reveals himself by his works. Word and deed go together; God’s word is an act, and his activity is speech. God’s works are first to be observed in creation and providence, which are an ongoing work and a miracle. A distinction must be maintained, however, between the ordinary order of nature and extraordinary deeds of divine power. In a special way, the latter are miracles, God doing something new. Thus the history of salvation is replete with miracles until the consummation. The anticipation of this final glory can be seen in the powerful signs of the kingdom performed by Jesus as acts of healing and restoring creation. When Christianity became established, God began to manifest his power and glory in spiritual miracles. Miracles have ceased until the fullness of Christ’s kingdom comes in all its glory.
    God’s self-revelation to us does not come in bits and pieces; it is an organic whole, a grand narrative from creation to consummation. All nature and history testify to God the Creator; all things return to him. Fallen humanity sees this revelation only in part and with blinded eyes. A special revelation is needed that is provided in grace. In this revelation God makes himself known to us as the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This revelation is historical and progresses over the course of many centuries, reaching it culmination in Jesus Christ, the Mediator of creation and redemption. From this history we discover that revelation is not exclusively addressed to the human intellect. In Christ, God himself comes to us in saving power. At the same time we must not make the opposite error and deny that revelation communicates truth and doctrine. Revelatory word and deed belong together in God’s plan and acts of salvation.
I find it comforting and corroborating that the Christian faith expands a period of over a thousand years of revelation. There are witnesses to the truth of this revelation all along the way, at each step and development. I know of no other religion that can boast this.
    Finally, the purpose and goal of special revelation is God’s own trinitarian glory, his delight in himself. The aim of revelation is to re-create humanity after the image of God, to establish the kingdom of God on earth, to redeem the world from the power of sin, and thus to glorify the name of the Lord in all his creatures. In addition to the objective work of Christ in revelation and redemption, the work of the Spirit is needed to enable human beings to acknowledge and accept the divine revelation and thereby become the image of the Son. God redeems and reveals; we know, understand, and believe. Revelation and religion are distinct but not separable. Revelation is possible only if God has a personal existence distinct from the world and possesses the will and power to reveal himself in deeds and words.
This all sounds solid to me. Again, I think I have some substantial differences regarding the way in which the Holy Spirit enables human beings to acknowledge and accept divine revelation, but that the Holy Spirit indeed does this through means I certainly affirm.  

Revelation in Nature and Holy Scripture

Here is the summary for this chapter:

    The doctrine of revelation is misconstrued by naturalism and supernaturalism alike. Since naturalism considers the material and sensible world along with its internal laws to be all that there is, some notion of the supernatural is needed to affirm the reality of God. The term “supernatural” should not be used for the higher capacities of the human spirit such as morality and genius. Nor must the supernatural be confused with the miraculous. Though all miracles are supernatural, not all supernatural events are miraculous. While the distinction is helpful, the great risk here is that special (supernatural) revelation become dualistically detached from creation and nature. Special revelation should never be separated from its organic connection to history, the world, and humanity.
 This I agree with, and here Bavinck will make some good points, about how in essence everything is a revelation from God in so far as it is from His mind and He has brought everything about. My beef with Bavinck will be that he will argue that the unbeliever has no recognition of natural revelation because he is not capable of recognizing it. Bavinck likes to say a lot and make you doubt what he means, but I am fairly confident in saying that he believes only the regenerate can look back from his vantage point of faith and see God through natural revelation. How Bavinck squares this with Romans 1 I do not know. The unbeliever suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, and I would argue that some, like atheists, do so to the point where they convince themselves that there is no God nor any evidence for him. But they had to see something of God in natural revelation in order to arrive at that degree of suppression.
    Roman Catholic supernaturalism fails to keep this organic link between nature and grace. The result is a twofold conception of human nature and destiny along with a dualism of spiritual callings; the order of grace is elevated above nature, and all reality becomes sacred or profane depending on whether it has been sacramentally sanctified. Reality becomes holy only by an ecclesiastical act of consecration and is thus incorporated into the service of the church.
There's a lot of good stuff about the Roman Catholic church in here from Bavinck. Sadly I can't include much of it for the sake of brevity.
    The Reformation converted this quantitative antithesis between revelation and nature into a qualitative one. Grace was not opposed to nature but to sin. The reality of the incarnation militates against any nature/grace dualism; the gospel is not hostile to the world as creation but to the world under dominion of sin.
A very important point for all times. If we see nature as itself bad, or even inferior, then we are wrongheaded, for God Himself made all things and His Son became a man.  Creation is good, for God has made it. And if God's grace has as its scope the restoration of nature, then man and nature remain intimately bound together, and through nature we do glorify and enjoy God.
    If supernaturalism undervalues nature, naturalism exalts it at the expense of revelation. Rationalists and deists accept the idea of revelation only insofar as it satisfies the bar of reason. The arguments against revelation arise from the conviction that all revelation is at odds with reason and science, which do not need the hypothesis of God or the supernatural. In addition, even if revelation occurred, we would not be able to recognize it. This is not the end of the matter, however, since rationalism must still account for the universality of religion and the accompanying conviction among people that their religion is based on revelation. Shifting and conflicting interpretations indicate the elusiveness of a satisfactory purely scientific explanation.
Bavinck is opposed, as I think most presuppositionalists are, to ever putting revelation under the scrutiny of man and his reason. I agree that, once something is recognized as revelation, then we cannot question it, for God has spoken. The question remains, however, how do we know that it is indeed God who has spoken in Scripture. Bavinck does not answer that satisfactorily for me. He would probably accuse me of having a deistic mindset, but in all of his critiquing I never saw him precisely critique my position, so maybe he wouldn't think of me quite so badly.
    Scripture, however, resists all naturalistic and rationalist explanations of its origin and attributes it solely to an extraordinary operative presence of God the Holy Spirit. Scripture does not give us data to interpret; it is itself the interpretation of reality, the shaper of a distinct worldview. This theistic worldview is sharply opposed by monism, which reduces all reality to a single substance, either matter (materialism) or mind (pantheism). Theism, by contrast, honors the distinction between God and the world and the distinct realities of the world. Instead of monistic uniformity, theism aims at unity in diversity, honoring the multiformity of creation itself. This unity is not based on a single metaphysical substance but is rooted in the creative will of the Triune God.
    This worldview is fully compatible with the reality of revelation and miracles. Nature is not a machine, as deists claim, nor a finished product but in the process of becoming. Revelation and miracles are not contrary to nature but part of a nature caught up in an ongoing teleological development toward its divine destiny. Miracles are not alien intruders in a fallen creation but are incorporated in the divine design of the world itself and serve God’s work of redeeming and perfecting fallen nature. Revelation and miracles are not simply individual acts of God but follow a divinely planned order in a progressive history. In revelation God comes to us to bring us to him to dwell with us forever.
Bavinck points out that all of human history, including his miraculous interactions with it, are part of the plan, and in that sense are natural. It's an interesting and helpful concept though only insofar as combating deism and other belief systems that would reject this and miracles out of hand.

    Still, revelation and miracles constitute an order of reality that is essentially distinct from the ordinary order of nature. They are not simply the product of a heightened natural capacity of inspired human beings. Nor should they be linked to such esoteric phenomena as spiritism, hypnotism, and telepathy. The miracles of Scripture are a unique and an indispensable component of a Christian worldview. God’s presence and activity is neither restricted to the natural order nor excluded from it. Revelation and miracle are at the same time closely bound to the natural and distinct from it.
    Not only is there a close bond between religion and revelation but also one between revelation and scripture. Almost all religions have some texts that include myths, ceremonial rules, liturgical texts, priestly documents, and so forth. Many also have a sacred book or collection of books serving as sacred scripture. These scriptures contain the content of religion, its ideas, doctrine, dogma, which it owes to revelation, expresses in words, passes over from one generation to another, and finally renders permanent in scripture. The written word is the incarnation of the spoken word and renders revelation permanent, universal, everlasting. This must not be understood as Lessing did, namely in opposition to the truths of history. History is itself the realization of God’s thoughts, the expression of his divine plan. The truths of history are not “accidental” nor are the “truths of reason” universal in Lessing’s sense.
    In the Christian tradition truth is incarnational, based on the history of the incarnate Son of God in our space and time. It is a truth both historical and universal and is borne through history incarnationally, through the tradition of the church universal. For divine revelation to fully enter the life of humankind, it assumed the servant form of written language. In this sense Scripture too is an incarnation of God, the product of God’s incarnation in Christ. Twin errors are to be rejected. The first is to equate scriptural revelation with inspiration itself, thus separating Scripture from the history of redemption and revelation that stands behind it. It is worth noting that not all inspiration and revelation given by God is recorded in Scripture. The second error is to devalue the “letter” of the written Word in favor of the “spirit.” Scripture alone is the one certain revelation we have from God. For the church, revelation is found in the form of Holy Scripture.
This is to be understood so that we do not try to incorporate our own private revelations into what God is calling his church to do. The fact that there are other revelations that occurred in the past and yet were not recorded in Scripture is an indication that what we are to follow is only that which has been given to us in Scripture. That is not to say that the other revelations were not valid, but only that what God has intended for his church universal is complete and has been given to us only in sacred Scripture. Even if one were to claim they had a word from God today, it could not contradict Scripture, nor could it add to it, which also indicates that the revelation is unnecessary. The Spirit illumines Scripture for us, working with our mind and intellect, helping us see what the point of Scripture. It does not give us new revelation today, for Christ is our final revelation.  
    Revelation as a whole is not complete until the parousia of Christ. It is divided into two dispensations, the objective revelation of God in Christ (including the Old Testament time of preparation) and the dispensation of the Spirit, in which the objective salvation in Christ is subjectively appropriated by the believer. There is no new objective revelation in the dispensation of the Spirit; the Holy Spirit applies the finished work of Christ, God’s full gift and revelation to humanity. The effect of Christ’s work continues as history continues to be unfolded according to God’s purpose, until God is dwelling with humanity. The Spirit regenerates individual believers, gathers and indwells the church, and affects the consciousness of humanity. The life of the church is a mystery without the light of Scripture, while apart from the church Scripture is an enigma and offense. Until the consummation when revelation ends and Scripture is no longer necessary, church and Scripture are inseparably joined by God the Holy Spirit.
I like Bavinck's thoughts that the church, while being illumined by the Spirit to understand Scripture, is still carrying out redemptive history. Too easily I think of the close of Scripture as kind of like the end of redemptive history, at least until Christ returns. But there are many times in Scripture when new revelation is not being given, and yet redemptive history is still unfolding. Of course, all history is redemptive history, broadly speaking, and it is exciting to know that as believers we are a part of God's grand story, which is still unfolding. This helps combat a dispensational mindset that might push us towards thinking that once we are saved we need to just sit in our lifeboats and wait until Christ returns. No, there is work to be done, including evangelism, but then as Christians we are to glorify God in all that we do, especially in our work and culture making.

I do fear that Bavinck goes a bit too far. At one point he said that the early church was essentially ignorant of what the Christian faith really was, and only over time did they come to understand what it was that they even believed in. Taken literally, that would be impossible. We cannot believe and trust in that which we utterly do not know or understand. Yet Bavinck seems to make that the very paradigm of the Christian life, and faith itself is the beginning of theology. For Bavinck, we do not understand and then believe, but by believing, we then come to understand. 


The Inspiration of Scripture 

Last chapter for this post, I promise: 

    Evidence for the doctrine that Scripture is inspired by God is found already in the Old Testament. The prophets were conscious of being called by God and having a message that was not their own word but God’s. The same is true for the written prophetic word. Written prophecy is a later but necessary stage in the history of revelation, a way for the divinely inspired prophetic word to address future generations. The prophets did not, as is claimed by critical scholars, “invent” ethical monotheism. Prophecy presumes the Torah, though it is not simply inferred from it; prophecy is a covenant-renewing new revelation. The historical books of the Old Testament are properly prophetic history, a commentary on the divine acts of salvation history. The poetic books, too, presuppose an earlier, objective revelation from the covenantal God and apply it to the religious-ethical aspects of Israel’s life. Eventually, these writings were all received as an authoritative canon.
    For Jesus and the apostles, the books of the Old Testament canon had divine authority. This is reflected in the way they refer to the Old Testament as authoritative (“it is written,” “Scripture says”). In addition Scripture provides self-testimony of its inspiration in explicit passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:19, 21. Not only is the Old Testament frequently cited in the New Testament—commonly in the Greek translation of the LXX—but it is also always acknowledged as authoritative. This is not challenged by the various and diverse manners in which the New Testament authors cite the Old Testament. The New Testament ultimately, also in its use of the Old Testament, seeks in the power of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the Christ. It is this apostolic testimony that led to the church accepting these writings as canonical. It is Christ himself who is the “Word” to whom Scripture bears testimony.
At this point I was digging Bavinck quite a bit. After all he says the apostolic testimony led the church to accept the writings as canonical. So there indeed was a reason. But later Bavinck will seem to say just the opposite, that basically it is the subjective impression that the Holy Spirit gives a believer that is the ground of our faith. Again, I think the Holy Spirit does give us saving faith, and trust that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God, but always through means. Always through that which is evident and reasonable, such as the testimony of the apostolic testimony. Why Bavinck capitulates on this later I do not understand. If there was a process of recognizing Scripture as canon, then why wouldn't there be a mental process today for those who are coming to faith in Christ? Just because it is now compiled into a Bible does not mean that it takes on some higher, holier status than it did before it was completely compiled. It was holy from the beginning, because it was inspired from the beginning. So when we examine a text purporting to be from God Himself, it would be wise to make sure as far as we can that such a claim is reasonable. And once we come to see that it is divine, we must submit to it, wholeheartedly, without question. Even what we do not understand, we must submit to, and we must also strive to understand it, because God does not speak in contradictions, but in truth. And as believers we have the mind of God and can understand His Word rationally with help from the Holy Spirit.   
    From its very beginning, the Christian church has always accepted Holy Scripture as the Word of God, beginning with the Old Testament. As this recognition was extended to include the apostolic writings of the New Testament, the conviction that these were “divine writings” was the church’s universal belief. Formally speaking, the acknowledgment of Scripture as divine and authoritative revelation enjoyed undisputed sway in the medieval church. The Council of Trent affirmed this trust in the Scriptures, though it also extended inspiration to the church’s tradition. In the post-Tridentine era, Roman Catholic theologians developed a variety of views on scriptural inspiration, including differing convictions about the nature and extent of inspiration. Some maintained the more rigorous view that the Spirit of God exerted a positive influence on the authors, extending even to individual words. A less rigorous view rejected the verbal inspiration of Scripture and extended the notion of general inspiration to other writings as well, provided they contained no falsehoods. Yet others held to the view that the Spirit’s guidance was only passive or negative, preserving the authors from error. Finally, yet others limited inspiration only to the so-called religious-ethical teachings, allowing for varying degrees of fallibility for the rest.
    Modern Roman Catholic thought tends toward a middle way between the rigorous notion of verbal inspiration and ideas of limited inspiration. A growing trend among Roman Catholic theologians is “concessionism,” an attempt to affirm biblical inspiration in a general sense while also accepting many of the most radical conclusions of historical criticism.

I don't remember if Bavinck says this later or has already said it, but essentially the Roman Catholic church makes a parallel of Scripture and their own tradition, and in the end, tradition interprets Scripture, making it (though they deny this) the final arbiter of truth.
    By contrast, the Reformers fully accepted the God-breathed character of Scripture. They accepted inspiration in its full positive sense and extended it to Scripture in all its parts. However, in the eighteenth century rationalist criticism rose again and separated the “Word of God” from the Bible. The difference between the inspiration of biblical writers and all believers was seen to be only a matter of degree. Scripture, judged in many ways to be fallible and deficient, was still believed in some way to reveal God or at least the person of Christ. A great deal of attention is paid to the doctrine of biblical inspiration in the modern era, though critical hostility to the Bible seems to have increased.
    This is an unstable situation, intellectually and spiritually, and occasionally draws some theologians back to a higher view of inspiration and revelation. The situation in the church seems to be better than in the academy. There are still many Christians in whom remains the consciousness of Scripture as God-breathed and authoritative for teaching and practice. Efforts to undermine this confidence continue when modernists elevate the teaching of Jesus over that of the apostles. Others acknowledge a weaker form of inspiration but insist upon accommodating it to the phenomena of Scripture from which they deduce a view of inspiration at odds with Scripture’s self-witness. This is improper in that it opposes a theologian’s own scientific insight to Scripture’s teaching about itself. No doctrine about Scripture can be based on such a method.
Bavinck points out that since Scripture claims to be inspired, then to say that in some places it is and others it isn't is to push against whatever is inspired. In a sense it has to be all or nothing. Either all of Scripture is inspired, or none of it is, at least not without a mixture of error (and then are we even talking about inspiration?). I suppose one could argue that since the Bible is a collection of individual books that one individual book could be inspired and others not, but so many attest to the inspiration of other books in the Bible that it is a difficult thing to split up.
    Scripture says about itself that it is “divinely inspired” or “God-breathed” (θεοπνευστος, 2 Tim. 3:16). This verbal should be taken in a passive rather than active sense; the Bible is inspired as well as inspiring. Inspiration is possible because the Spirit of God is immanent in creation, though biblical inspiration may not be equated with heroic, poetic, or other religious inspiration. It is not a work of God’s general providence but of his saving purpose in special revelation. Prophets and apostles are people “borne by God” (2 Pet. 1:19–21); it is God who speaks in and through them.
    Inspiration should not be reduced to mere preservation from error, nor should it be taken in a “dynamic” way as the inspiration of persons. The view that inspiration consists only in actively arousing religious affections in the biblical authors, which were then committed to writing, confuses inspiration with regeneration and puts Scripture on par with devotional literature. At the same time a “mechanical” view of inspiration fails to do justice to the role of the biblical writers as secondary authors. One-sidedly emphasizing the divine, supernatural element in inspiration disregards its connection with the author’s gifts, personality, and historical context. God treats human beings, including the biblical writers, not as blocks of wood but as intelligent and moral beings.
God uses the gifts He Himself has given to His people to write Scripture. This is done in such a way that they write precisely what He wanted them to communicate, but it does not mean that they were given a dictation from God and told to write verbatim what He said. They spoke and wrote through their own personalities, and in many different genres throughout Scripture.
    Neither a “dynamic” nor a “mechanical” view suffices. The proper view of biblical inspiration is the organic one, which underscores the servant form of Scripture. The Bible is God’s word in human language. Organic inspiration is “graphic” inspiration, and it is foolish to distinguish inspired thoughts from words and words from letters. Scripture must not be read atomistically, as though each word or letter by itself has its own divine meaning. Words are included in thoughts and vowels in words. The full humanity of human language is taken seriously in the notion of organic inspiration.
    Critical opposition to this view of inspiration remains strong. While objections—e.g., from historical criticism—should not be ignored, we must not overlook the spiritual-ethical hostility to Scripture from the forces of unbelief. While not all questioning of Scripture reveals hostile unbelief, it is important to underscore the duty of every person to be humble before Scripture. Holy Scripture must judge us, not the reverse. The Holy Spirit opens our heart to trust, believe, and obey God’s Word in Scripture. Submission remains a struggle, also an intellectual one. We must acknowledge our limitations, the reality of mystery, our weakness of faith, without despairing of all knowledge and truth. Our hope is in Christ, the true man in whom human nature is restored. That is the purpose of Scripture: to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
So Bavinck does seem to allow for some sort of examination of Scripture, but is quick to affirm that we must remain in submission to it. I think he would say that as we examine Scripture as believers we must never come to a point where we are questioning its truthfulness or goodness, but rather we must examine it carefully while remaining in submission to it. Of course as a believer I agree, but what if you are a believer and doubt, like Luther for a time, that James should be part of the canon of Scripture? If you are already having doubts and wish to examine it more closely, how do you go about doing so? That is a tough question I think.
    Salvation is in the one who considered nothing human as alien and through his Holy Spirit joins us to himself through a word that is also fully human and wholly true. The Bible is not given to us as a text for scientific investigation of creation, but it does provide principles for knowing and living that guide us all. These principles also guide scientists and are a source of blessing for science and art, society and state. Jesus is Savior, and the reach of his grace extends as far as the effects of sin’s corruption.

Agreed, and as an aside I would like to add that it seems much better that God has given us His Word over time, for reasons I mentioned above. It is quite helpful for my faith to look back and see the internal integrity and beauty of Scripture, that it is consistent and without proven error, and that it has done this, not by being dropped from the sky by God and given to us all at once at one point in time, but rather it has maintained this throughout the ages. And there have been witnesses all along the way to its truthfulness.   

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